Why are behavioral changes so difficult for humans? We implement them so often in research with animals. I guess we motivate behavioral changes in science with animals using fear or hunger – ie, if you don’t do this thing then you don’t get a cracker, or I’ll give you an electrical zap. But it’s morally wrong to treat humans over 18 like this. Under 18, it’s called parenting and it is exactly how behaviors are established. Over 18, and you are magically enabled to make your own decisions and in many cases, supported by parents or a loved one to choose your own path, however unsustainable it might be. There are trickle down problems as a result of “us” being so hesitant to change and lacking the motivation to improve ourselves. Doctors have a tendency to treat symptoms rather than root causes (when it comes to obesity). People tiptoe around real problems that their friends have in order to avoid an emotional conflict – a conflict that only occurs because of the lack of open-minded-ness for a potentially necessary change. We float along in the ease of the status quo… but why not change the status quo to a state of constant, intentional action? Take care of yourself. It’s literally all you’ve got.
Parents brought back all my stuff from storage in Seattle, and I went through old pictures today (to discard some, reminisce over some). Just… wow. So many people, so many names and people in my memory. People I once interacted with daily, enjoyed, were friends on many levels, and now I absolutely don’t know who they are at all. I have so many shadow memories of these shadow people. And I have passing thoughts about where these people are now, who these people are now… and it’s just a hop skip and a jump from asking myself, who am I now? How would I define myself to those who I once knew a lifetime ago?
None of us are really all that different, probably. We are all meandering about, trying to find happiness in our own ways. Most of us living the working life with the dream of eventual retirement when we can go explore and experience the world and all it has to offer. Our methods may be slightly different, and our means and starting points and approaches. It’s so difficult to observe without judgement or coveting, especially with access to all these ports of social media and excess awareness. Was life easier in the old days with snail mail and phone books? Was there less pressure, or were people less prone to be pressured? The best we can do now, I guess, is accept ourselves wherever we are and do our best to not give in to that pressure.
I decided to run a timed mile, since I think it’s a pretty fun (but probably inaccurate) measure of general fitness, and it’s pretty accessible, and what’s not to love about collecting data over the span of one’s life? The last time I ran a timed mile was 201 blog posts ago in 2012 and my time was 8:55. Today, I ran it in 7:53!! Which is GREAT. I was expecting an improvement since my last mile, since I feel much more physically fit than I used to be, but I wasn’t expecting under 8 minutes! Here were my splits:
Lap 1 – 1:39
Lap 2 – 2:07
Lap 3 – 2:10
Lap 4 – 1:55
I think the main thing I struggled with with this mile was my running gait. For the last few years (3?) since I started running regularly in norcal, I’ve been wearing barefoot shoes and running on my toes. I initially started doing this to alleviate knee pain, and I do think it’s helped because impact force is taken by ankles and calves rather than purely by the knee. On my typical runs and on my half marathon training last year I never ran for time and just took my own pace. So this was the first time in a long time where I wanted to go fast. I found after my first few steps that it was basically impossible for me to run fast on my toes! I switched to heel striking/running with my entire foot and my pace was definitely faster with longer strides for the first lap. But, I think I overdid the speed and I was pooped after lap 1. Lap 2 and 3 I switched back to toe-running for comfort and ease, but it obviously slowed down my pace. For my last lap I went back to running on my full foot for the speed, but I was so tired!
It’s crazy how exhausted you can be after just a few minutes of high intensity cardio breathing. I was sooo pooped. I felt like I tasted iron in my mouth, and even now a few hours later my throat is still dry. (Or maybe I’m coming down with a cold.) I do think I tried very hard in this mile, though in hindsight I probably could have stepped it up just a tiny notch on lap 2 and 3 by changing my gait – maybe cutting my time down 10-15 seconds? Mentally it was a bit of a struggle because I wanted to practice ahimsa (non-hurting) but also tapas (commitment) lol. So conflicting! But we did it and it was great and exhausting. Again in 2020!
Two blog posts in 3 days?? :O
Yesterday Stan planned a small event for a group of friends to participate in Vive Calle San Jose, a cool closed-streets pedestrian/bike event that took place from Midtown to Japantown. It was pretty cool, and it was more fun than I expected to bike around casually in the middle of the street without fear of cars running us over. And the streets were surprisingly quiet without the rumble of lots of engines. I wonder how much noise pollution comes from automobiles. There wasn’t any good swag other than free popsicles (of which the boys partook 2 of, each) but I did find Wits and Wagers for $1 at a thrift store! That was pretty great.
But I’m here to log some headcount to food quantity data. We bought 4.2 lbs of uncooked chuck (?) (on sale for like $13!) and 4-5 bell peppers, an onion, 16 oz pico de gallo, and 60 tortillas. One bag of chips and one jar salsa. 8 eaters (Stan, me, Mike, Je, Tom, Justin, Dan, Robert) and all we’re left with is 20 tortillas. Everything was eaten!!! I was afraid of having leftovers because I didn’t want to be eating leftover tacos for a week, so I’m happy that it was just about right.
Search words: How much food for 8 people for lunch?
I just realized I never wrote about the completion of my RYT training. I guess it felt a little anti-climactic. We finished our instructor led training in May and were given a take-home written test to complete. I turned mine and received my certificate mid-June. And then I registered and paid the fee to Yoga Alliance to be officially RYT 200 (Registered Yoga Teacher w/200 hours training)! Last month I finally started practicing-teaching, because I realized that’s really the only way I’ll start getting more comfortable with guiding sequences and cueing and spreading the yoga-love. It’s been great so far, definitely been improving (especially with differentiating my left and right limbs from students’ when mirroring) and I’m coming up on my 5th class next week. I’m glad that my students (group of friends) have been enjoying and coming back week to week.
Almost exactly a month to the day I got my PRK laser eye surgery!!! And boy does it feel great. I still have a mental lapse every night before bed when I think to myself “Oh shoot I forgot to take off my contacts” which makes me smile because I don’t actually have any contacts to take out!!!
Pre-op appointments: I did my consultation (for eligibility and quote) months before my surgery when I was still shopping around and deciding if it was something I wanted to do. They told me that due to cornea thickness, I was only eligible for PRK and not LASIK. Didn’t really matter to me, since any discomfort in recovery is minimal compared to long term satisfaction! For which both types of surgeries and comparable positive results. A few months later, I found out that my FSA was doing a weird half-year plan where I could (I thought) contribute full year dollar amount twice in one year via a strange loophole, so I went ahead and booked my surgery for during the overlap time. Unfortunately, it was a misunderstanding and though the benefits plan itself allows you to contribute, the IRS has a calendar year max, so I wasn’t able to get an extra $500 or so off of my surgery. Sigh, oh well. At the couple-days-before-surgery pre-op, they measured my vision again and dilated my eyes. Some eyedrops they put in for numbing or other reasons really stung, probably more so than any other part of the experience.
Surgery: Lots of numbing drops, sitting around, and then the surgery itself. Each eye took maybe two minutes. “Stare at the green light.” The doctor scrapes off the top layer (epi-something) which oddly looks like a squeegee on your windshield from the inside of your head. Then the doctor holds your head while the laser goes bzzbzzzbzz and you smell something burning. Your eyes! And then they put on a contact and everything is blurry but not actually worse than my eyes were going in (5.75 both eyes.)
Recovery: Immediately after the surgery my eye were sore and it was somewhat tiring for me to keep my eyes open. So I took a long nap Next day my eyes were very sensitive to bright lights, so I took the day off. I was able to read my Kindle in a light-filtered room. The biggest annoyance for me during recovery was the fact that my right eye healed much more quickly than my left. This made depth perception weird and I feel may have contributed to mental tiredness much more. The schedule for the recovery eyedrops was annoying, but doable. They said to expect significant/peak pain on day 3, since that’s when the epi-layer would merge back together, but for me it didn’t feel worse than when you accidentally put your contact in backwords and blink. I would describe it as irritation, not pain. They said to expect pain like “cutting a lot of onions” but it wasn’t like that for me at all haha. I still had some irritation at 2 weeks (occasional, only my left eye), but it was minimal. And now, 4 weeks after surgery, no irritation! Just like contacts, but BETTER because my eyes aren’t dry at all! I haven’t experienced any ghosting or whatever during the night time, and pretty sure my vision is better at night than it was with glasses.
All in all, highly recommended surgery! It set me back about $5k in the end (including some $300 or so of medications not covered by my insurance) but I am so happy to be able to see in the mornings!!!
Stan booked a campsite (#4!) at Angel Island for the second weekend of July and 8 of us spent a night on the island. Sophie, Eric, Amy, Joe, Josh and Roberta joined us this time. We took the 10-ish AM ferry from Pier 41, arrived at the island around 11 and decided to do a quick hike to the summit. The island is so small that the summit hike took less than 2 hours starting and ending at the dock. We got back, had lunch by the dock, and then hiked over with all our gear to the campsite on the other side of the island, taking part of the Perimeter road. The campsite was amazing, with a great near-360 view of SF and all the bridges. We basically chilled at camp the rest of the day. The next morning we decided to take the rest of the perimeter road (5 miles?) back to the dock for our return ferry. And just like that we essentially traversed the entire tiny island, haha.
Stanley, Justin and I went to Mt Diablo a few weekends ago (7/23-7/24)! The park gate is closed from sunset til 8am, so instead of rushing over there after work on Friday, we left south bay early morning on Saturday morning. It took about 2 hours to get there in the morning, and we arrived basically as the gate was opening at 8am. Found a relatively shady campsite, made some cashew butter and plum jam sandwiches, and headed off for our hike!
It was a great hike (in my opinion)!! Started off with some downhill, which I appreciated because I hate downhills at the end of hikes, lol. It was relatively flat until we got on the ridge trail – that diagonal cut-off across the top. We had an option to continue following the fire road (only an additional 0.2 miles, but definitely probably less fun) so I led our party onto the ridge trail. I’ve never hiked a ridge trail before and it was so much fun. There were enough small trees and shrubbery for most of that leg of the trail to keep us mostly shady. Path was barely wide enough for two feet, lots of squatting to avoid getting face slapped by leaves and poison oak, rocky and inclined for major muscle activation lol. My favorite part was the twists and turns where you don’t know what’s next – a small hill? A flat rest area? Rocks, trees, bushes?
The summit itself was whatever, views of dead grass in the hot of the summer… I prefer hiking in areas that are more isolated from city life, but from the summit of Mt Diablo you can just barely make out the San Francisco skyline in the distance. Pretty fun to notice how far and how close we can get from the city… puts things in perspective, huh?
We got back to the campsite around 2 or 3? Bummed around and snacked, took a group nap, then prepped burgers for dinner. Played a few board games, played some pokeymans, took some pictures, and KO’d for bed early as usual
Stand at the top of your mat, feet hips width apart or toes touching heels slightly separated. Keeping your back flat, fold forward, allowing your knees to bend deeply until your chest rests on your quads. Clasp opposite elbows. Relax your neck. Imagine a string pulling the crown of your head toward the ground in front of your feet. Keeping this imaginary string taut, on your inhale bring strength into your legs and straighten just a bit. Exhale back out a little bit. Inhale move legs toward straight (tailbone toward the sky), exhale back out a little bit. Repeat dynamic movement for 2 more breaths. Next inhale straighten legs as much as possible without releasing the connection between chest and legs, hold here for 4 breaths, and exhale release.
From high plank pose – shoulders active, rhomboid muscles lifting the upper bank, legs straight and abs engaged – 10 slow breaths. Exhale lift the hips come into downward facing dog, keeping hands and feet where they are. Hands and feet all pressing into the mat strongly, back flat (knees bent and feet apart if needed). 4 breaths here. On your next inhale, walk the hands just one palm’s length toward you, exhale lengthen the back and press your heels toward the ground. Inhale again bring your hands one palm’s length toward your feet, exhale straighten the back, stretch the shoulders. Continue a few more breaths (or not) until back becomes rounded with palms pressing into the ground. Now lengthening the downward facing dog: Inhale walk the palms toward the top of the mat, exhale “down dog.” Repeat until back in a standard down dog length, come forward into plank pose to check position of hands and feet, then back into down dog. Slowly release your knees to the mat, sit back onto your heels and come into child’s pose.
Man, I’ve missed cardio. Seven months after my half marathon (mistake), I can finally say that my knee is basically fully healed and I can now run and hike and yoga without any hindrances. Well, still taking it easy on my knees in yoga (virasana and related postures) but this week I ran 2.5 miles and hiked 5 miles without any issues. Hurrah! Thank you, body, for doing what you do even though it took awhile. I’m only getting older though, so I think it’s time to be more careful with my body, since it’s only going to take longer and longer to heal these types of injuries from now on. 😐
Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, so I’m throwing a celebratory brunch at the house for all the extended family, with all the next generation too. I’m making roasted potatoes, french toast, avocado toast, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, bacon, omelettes, and eggs-of-all-kinds. Except poached, I’m not really into poached eggs. Also I’m making cold brew coffee, though it’s taking forever to drip, and I’m not sure if I did it correctly… but coffee drinkers will be coffee drinkers, so I’m not too worried heh.
Anyway, other than work and yoga, not much is going on lately. Stanley and I threw a 2016 birthday party at our new place, and I’d say it was a total success! For future reference, we made tacos, and made about 12-16 cups “sides” (slaw, corn, kimchi), and ended up cooking about 9 lb of meat for about 20 attendees. More seating would probably be nice, but our space was big enough to fit everyone seated on the ground like true Asians. Looking forward to next year’s birthday party already!!!